Daily prompt: Fight or flight

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Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?

The first time that I remember being scared was when I was just six years old. I somehow was allowed to walk home from first grade alone, the reason why I think this is because I have images of myself sitting on my book bag talking to my class mate after school, talking and talking, completely unaware of the time. I remember at one point standing up, thinking that I might have stayed there for too long and that is when my fear started to build. I quickly said goodbye and started running towards home. When I finally got there, my landlord was sitting on the front stoop playing with my little sister who was a toddler and he looked worried. He was relieved when he saw me running towards him, I could tell from his smile. Mister Brunner was one of the nicest men that I have ever met in my life; he was the best landlord that anyone could ever ask for and my sister and I were so very lucky to have him as our babysitter.

That day is still etched in my mind as if it has been chiseled there. Mister Brunner told me that my parents had gone to the police station, they had been that scared when I hadn’t showed up on time from school. The fear sitting in my stomach was so deep and so bad that I felt nauseous and I couldn’t even stand up, I laid down on my bed and when my parents finally came home, my mother charged into my room and gave me a spanking that was filled with such anger and fear that I wet my pants. I started crying even before the spanking had landed on my bottom, my tears were from being terrified of my mother’s anger. I definitely didn’t like it when she was angry.

Being a parent now, I can understand the fear that can consume you when your child is late and you don’t know where they are, but I have been lucky thus far. I am also not my mother, I practice deep breathing and can talk myself down from bursts of anger. 

My mother’s angry reaction to my being late at coming home from school reminds me of a scene from that wonderful movie “Parenthood” starring Steve Martin, Mary Steenbergen and Jason Robards. Jason Robards plays the patriach who has a difficult relationship with his son played by Steve Martin and he explains his inability to connect with Steve Martin’s character by telling him about the time Jason Robards was told by the doctor that Steve Martin’s character might have polio and how it had filled him so deeply with abject fear that he had hated him for it. He had hated the power that unconditional love had over him and how powerless he felt because of it. My mother must have felt the same way and I was too little to understand it, all that I understood was that I was so very scared of my mother and her wrath.

Daily prompt: A Plot of Earth

You’re given a plot of land and have the financial resources to do what you please. What’s the plan?

I have the plot of land already picked out, it is in France, in the Southwest, in a town called Piraillan sandwiched on the headland of Cap Ferret between the Atlantic Ocean and the Basin d’Arcachon. My children and I found it ten years ago and it was perfect. I believe that the plot of land itself was an acre and it was located just down the street from the farmer’s market which is open every morning from 7:00 to 1:00 in the afternoon. The house is set in the back away from the street and there are different flowering bushes and trees in the front yard shielding the house away from prying eyes. The house itself was a fixer upper; I remember a central hallway with two bedrooms on one side of the house, I remember the kitchen was fairly large, but closed off from the dining room, I know that there was a wall that I wanted to knock down to make it easier to get to the dining room from the kitchen. There was a stone walkway that wrapped completely around the house and opening out into a large terrace where there was room for a very nice barbecue grill and a large table and chairs.

There was a garage that was very large and had a loft that could be renovated into a get away room. When we looked at the house it was about, when France still had their franc and at the time the exchange rate was 7 to 1 in our favor, 200,00.00; nowadays with the Euro, houses like that one are no longer a steal. If only that old lady hadn’t snatched the house right under my nose, we could have had a retirement home waiting for us in my favorite place in the world. What I did come away with from looking for real estate with the kids all those years ago, is that I know exactly what I am looking for when we are ready to buy our retirement house in France. That house was it for me or at the very least as big as I wanted to go, but if there was a smaller house in the same area, then I would be fine with it as well.

These pictures are to give you an idea of what my future house will look like; I think that you will see the potential as I did. The house that I had seen wasn’t open like the picture below, but when I knock down the walls, this is what I envision. 









Daily prompt: Cut off

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When was the last time you felt really, truly lonely?





It has truly been over a quarter of a century since I have felt really, truly lonely. Before then, I remember a few times where I felt devastatingly lonely and it hurt to the core. When loneliness hits, it really gets you to the foundation of your being; I remember questioning the universe as to why it was so difficult for others to love me for me and why was I so defective in their eyes. I remember not understanding what others had that I didn’t; these questions, doubts and self-recriminations happened mostly during adolescence, but my first year at college away from home was really brutal. My suitemates all turned on me because I had inadvertently hurt one suitemate’s feelings; her name was Elise and the others since day one, could barely tolerate her; when the school year had started, her boyfriend broke up with her and eventually she had stopped crying and moping. Fast forward to April and her ex-boyfriend asked me if I would share a round trip bus ride to N.Y because coincidentally we were both going to the same place at the same time. I said yes, thinking nothing of it, everything was amicable but on the way back up a few kisses were shared and that was it. For some reason the suitemates decided that I had broken a sacred rule of girlhood and I was tossed to the wolves. I was basically shunned until the end of the school year in my suite and that pushed me back home, back to civilization and the safety of my home. The minute that I came back home, my loneliness lifted and all was right in the world; for the most part.

Throughout these experiences, what I had found helpful were books. Books saved my life, my mind and my heart. I found knowledge, new worlds, other perspectives and non-judgemental, dependable friends. I can’t imagine a world without books.

http://youtu.be/UAxARJyaTEA

Hey! Rex junior!

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I have written on several occasions of Rex’s former chewing escapades.

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They started when he was a puppy and continued until he was about a year and a half and he ate books, ottomans, shoes and chewed on chairs, piano seats and stairs. He never went after food left on counters, that was good old Marshall, our walking Black Lab. Our Lulu is mixing it up with the two behaviors; last night she went after the meat pie that was sitting on the stovetop and finished the remaining 3/4 quarters of it and today she grabbed one of our wooden spoons that was lying on the counter, being used to stir the simmering chili, as you can see it is now useless as a spoon, it is going into the fireplace as kindling.

I suppose that by saying that she is channeling Rex and Marshall, it makes it easier to not get mad, but instead fondly reminisce on the escapades of our beloved Rex and Marshall because as you might have ascertained from many of my previous posts, we really miss those two and we most definitely miss our little Tuck, the unique Beagle that we got to love for three years.

Lulu is seriously keeping us on our toes. Oh yes and Jack is there, right behind her, helping with the mischief, the little imp.

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Daily Prompt: Tourist Trap

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What’s your dream tourist destination — either a place you’ve been and loved, or a place you’d love to visit? What about it speaks to you?

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The top picture is of Carro, France, I didn’t take it, I got it off the Internet. I have so many fond memories of this tiny town deep in the South, I just wish that I had more pictures of my cousin’s place. My sister and I spent at least 6 weeks there during each of the 3 summers back when we were growing up and it was such an idyllic time. The Mediterranean Sea was our backyard, literally right at the back of the house and we spent morning and afternoon swimming like fish, we slept like the dead from all of the water activity, we also ate like kings.

The bottom picture is of Hydra, Greece another place that I have lovely memories of, not only of the place but of the company I kept at the time of my visit. I was lucky enough to have spent my time at Hydra with my summer roommate at University of London, Cindy and our friends that we made in the dormitories, Charlene and Rita. I felt such a connection to the island, much more of a connection than what I had felt in Athens or Aegina; maybe it was the simple life that was evident everywhere; there weren’t any cars allowed on the island, everything was transported by donkey and cart, the open markets, the family run cafe and the larger restaurant also family run, the small boutiques and the very hard working people, who after hours played just as hard.

It was very nice to write about these two special places, it warmed my heart and soul to remember walking down the streets in both places, the special meals that I had shared with, either my family or friends, in the restaurants and in my cousin’s house, swimming in the Mediterranean at each place and how it was both the same sea and yet I saw different colors and had different swimming experiences. In Carro, the waves at times were so strong and in Hydra the water was calm, almost like glass.

These past few days have been tough, but with memories like these, it helps keep me optimistic and strong because winter is but a season and before we know it, the sun and warmer temperatures combined will make this winter but a distant memory.

Getting to Know Her ……..

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As Lulu is getting to know us, we are getting to know her. She is coming out of her shell little by little; she is making herself comfortable on all of the beds and the couches, she barked once, she is running around with Jack, she treated the remote control like a chew toy and she is reaching for food on the counters. She is definitely making herself at home.

She has gained quite a few pounds, seven since she has been with us, thank goodness because her ribs and pelvic bones were painfully visible beneath her skin, now she looks thin, not emaciated.

Lulu comes up to me when Jack is on my lap and kisses him on his face and Jack doesn’t mind, he kisses her back and then he jumps off to plague her, tugging on her jowls and biting her legs. He is a kook.

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Daily prompt: Use it or lose it

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Write about anything you’d like, but make sure the post includes this sentence:

“I thought we’d never come back from that one.”

The year was 1990, the month was August and I remember thinking that “we’d never come back from that one” while our car accident was in full progress.

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The memory of that accident is still so very clear in my mind even after all of these years. I remember my soon to be husband and I had an argument about me putting my seatbelt on, in hindsight my husband saved my life because spending the entire accident upside down spinning around on the asphalt, grinding down the plastic roof of the Jeep without a seatbelt would have most likely resulted with me not surviving the accident.

When we finally stopped spinning, only because we hit a tree right before a ravine, I thought that we were still in danger because I was panicking over the possibility of an explosion, that’s how all car accidents end in the movies.

Now I know that there are a few ways to interpret the phrase “I thought that we would never come back from that one”, but in those minutes of that accident, my interpretation was a literal one, I thought that we were going to die, but thank goodness we defied the odds and actually came back from that one.

I spoke too early

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I should have never complained about the cold and the snow when I did. I spoke too soon, when I thought that things couldn’t get any worse and I couldn’t take much more of the cold, something got worse, worse as in pipes bursting upstairs yesterday.

My daughter was a champion, she caught it pretty quickly and that gave me the time to race down to the basement to shut the water off to the whole house. The break was in the small passage way up to the attic on the East side of the house, water started dripping from the wooden beams in the kitchen and I set up pots and pans in a straight line.

After that was done, I went down to the basement to better investigate the problem, meaning determining which zone controls what part of the house, isolating it and shutting it off while allowing the other zones to run. Writing it down, it sounds fairly straightforward, but this is an old house and the heating system wasn’t put in all at once, the second floor was added to the heating system when we moved in and we had to replace the furnace a few years ago, so it took me a few minutes to look around and trace the pipes back both to the furnace and to the various areas in the floor plan from the bottom up.

I took my daughter down with me to show her where the entire house water shutoff valve was located, where the other turnoff valves to the furnace and the water heater were located; it was a very good lesson in home maintenance for both of us. Basically I figured out where the zone was, the correct valves to shut off, I drained the zone to get rid of the water so that future leaks wouldn’t happen and I restarted the furnace to start heating the ground floor. I thought everything was fine until I saw that another leak had sprung from the upstairs guest bedroom and the downstairs library had water dripping from the celing. I raced once more downstairs to turn off the furnace and switch the water back off. Now I was confused because I thought that I had found the solution, it wasn’t until my husband came home and he saw that one of the zone 4 valves wasn’t closing and that’s why I had had problems with the other leak, if it had closed correctly, I would have been fine.

My husband to the rescue, he replaced the faulty valve and we are back in business for the moment. The next order of business is repairing the leaks which will get done, I am not worried because we have the issues understood and a plan of action. ANd that is really all you need, a plan of action.

Jack is suicidal

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As soon as I typed the words I had a feeling of deja vu, I might have used that title before when Rex was still alive.

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Jack used to torment Rex by biting his ears, his tongue, his paws and his jowls, but Rex loved his little guy and Jack was so safe with his protector.

Jack has started the same behavior with Lulu, it makes me nervous because she is still brand new to the household and I don’t think that she loves Jack as of yet. I know that she likes him, but love? I think that it is still a little soon for that strong emotion. Jack has been running beside her, jumping and grabbing her jowls with his teeth which makes her stop and then he keeps on tugging. He even nips at her legs, playfully yes, but still it must be annoying. Jack doesn’t seem to know that she can do serious damage if she wanted to, he thinks that he is the big dog on campus. I feel like calling him Jack the Lion-hearted. He is so cute, crazy, but still so cute. I think that Lulu will continue not minding, and if she does get annoyed, she will be gentle, hopefully.

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